Chaintech CT-7AIV2 Socket-A KT133 microATXby Henry Kuo on October 5, 2000 3:07 AM EST
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Similar to other KT133 motherboards, the 8363 memory controller in the CT-7AIV2 is nice enough to let you run your memory at either 133MHz or 100MHz. Therefore, users with PC133 SDRAM can take advantage of the increased bandwidth over PC100 SDRAM, going from 800MB/s to 1.06GB/s. This can be done easily in the BIOS by setting the memory bus to +33MHz. There is also a CAS latency setting in BIOS, so users can push their memory to the limit.
The memory controller supports both PC133 and VC133 SDRAM. However, there are only two DIMM slots on the board so users can install a maximum of 1GB memory. From what we see there is actually space to put in a third DIMM slot in, an addition that would increase the maximum memory potential of the CT-7AIV2 1.5GB. We are not sure why Chaintech does not include the third DIMM slot, but it might to reduce cost. 1GB memory is a lot even for advanced users, but two DIMM slots do limit the flexibility and expandability.
One thing that OEMs look for in a motherboard is stability. Experienced users who like to build their own systems will not go for micro-ATX because of its lack of expandability. However, for inexperienced users who just want to buy stable systems, it is the OEMs’ responsibilities to supply these computers with stable motherboards. In order to make sure that the CT-7AIV2 is stable, Chaintech puts twelve high quality 2200uF capacitors around the 462-pin Socket-A to guarantee sufficient power for the CPU and clean signals going in and out of the CPU. This is probably the reason why the board is still rock solid even with with the extreme amount of heat generated around the CPU area.
Lack of expandability is the biggest disadvantage of micro-ATX boards. For VIA KT133 chipset, there can be a maximum of one AGP slot, five PCI slots, and one ISA/PCI slot. However, due to the size constraints of the motherboard, the CT-7AIV2 only has 4 PCI slots. Chaintech even chose to give up the AGP slot to allow an extra PCI slot. In order to make the absence of the AGP slot possible, Chaintech chose to integrate NVidia's TNT2 M64 on-board AGP video. Unfortunately, this can be bad news for users who care about 3D performance. As shown in our tests, the 3D performance of this video chip is not up to par with some high-end graphic cards like the NVidia GeForce GTS we generally use for testing. Chaintech knows the lack of an AGP slot can be a serious performance problem, so they also make the CT-7AIA. It has almost the same features as the CT-7AIV2 has, with the exception of no on-board video but the addition of an AGP slot. Even though this board is available, some OEMs will choose the CT-7AIV2 with on-board video even though it has poor 3D performance, since they can produce even cheaper systems for users who seldom run 3D applications.
Since the CT-7AIV2 has on-board video, one of the COM ports is replaced by the VGA connector, which means that you will run into trouble if you have more than one device requiring a serial port.
As usual, the VIA 686A South Bridge provides two ATA-33/66 channels to support a total of 4 IDE devices. The IDE channel connectors are placed on the front edge of the motherboard, so the drives cables will not have to run over any other components which may block airflow.
Moreover, the VIA 686A South Bridge also supports up to 4 USB devices. Beside the two traditional USB ports mounted at the back of the motherboard together with the serial / parallel ports, there is also a connector for USB 3 and 4 on the left edge of the board. However, Chaintech does not include any USB headers to take advantage of the extra two USB connectors.